OKC Expungement

Oklahoma Pardon Process

A.  General Oklahoma Pardon Info

A pardon is an act of forgiveness. In order to receive a pardon, by statute, an individual must first
make application for a pardon. After an application is submitted, reviewed, and deemed complete by
the administrative staff of the Pardon and Parole Board, the application is referred for a Pre-Pardon
investigation. After the investigation is completed, the pardon request is placed on a docket. The
Pardon and Parole Board will review the application and provide an optional personal appearance.
The Board will then decide to favorably recommend or deny the request for a pardon. The application
and recommendation are then forwarded to the Governor for review. Only the Governor can grant a
pardon. For more information on the process, refer to the Frequently Asked Questions on the Board’s
website.
An application for a pardon does not guarantee that a favorable recommendation by the Pardon and
Parole Board will be made or that the Governor will grant a pardon.
A pardon is not a parole or commutation and does not clear or erase a criminal record, but does
acknowledge that someone has worked hard to become a productive, law-abiding citizen after making
mistakes in the past. There is no fee to apply for a pardon. Under Oklahoma law, a pardon will not
clear the conviction from a person’s record. Those who are currently incarcerated are not eligible
for a pardon.
A pardon granted in Oklahoma may restore some of an individual’s civil rights. A pardon does not
remove the conviction from a person’s record, and it does not prevent a criminal record from being
considered when decisions are made concerning employment or other matters. Even if a pardon is
granted, the record may continue to have an effect. Individuals who receive a pardon must still answer
“Yes” if asked about a felony or misdemeanor convictions on an employment application. However,
information about the pardon may be included.

Those who are currently incarcerated cannot apply for a pardon.  

The governor’s pardon power cannot be exercised except pursuant to a favorable recommendation from a majority of the Board of Pardon and Parole.  Okla. Const. art. VI, § 10.  The governor must report to the legislature on each clemency grant at each regular session, though he is not required to state the reasons for his decisions.  Okla. Const. art. VI, § 10.  

B.  Oklahoma Pardon and Firearms

According to Oklahoma Statutes, Title 21 § 1283 (B), the only way to restore a person’s firearm rights
is through a pardon granted by the Governor of Oklahoma. The statute states that any person who
has previously been convicted of a nonviolent felony in any court of this state or of another state or of
the United States, and who has received a full and complete pardon from the proper authority and has
not been convicted of any other felony offense which has not been pardoned, shall have restored the

right to possess any firearm or other weapon prohibited by subsection A of this section, the right to
apply for and carry a handgun, concealed or unconcealed, pursuant to the Oklahoma Self-Defense
Act and the right to perform the duties of a peace officer, gunsmith, or for firearms repair.

C.  Oklahoma Pardon Eligibility

The eligibility criteria below must be met for all convictions for which a pardon is being requested.
Failure to meet the eligibility criteria will result in the application being returned.
In order to be eligible for a pardon, a person must meet the following criteria:
• Must have been convicted of a violation of Oklahoma law, either a felony or misdemeanor, or in an
Oklahoma Municipal Court involving a misdemeanor alcohol or illegal drug offense. Traffic
misdemeanor convictions are NOT eligible for a pardon.
• Must either have discharged all sentences, including supervision, or successfully completed five
consecutive years of parole or probation immediately prior to application.
• Must have paid all fines, fees, restitution, court costs, etc. in full.
• Must not have any new or pending charges.
• Must not currently be in jail or prison.
• Must not have been considered for a pardon within the past three years.
• Must have discharged all other sentences, including post-imprisonment supervision. Any cases from
other jurisdictions must also meet these criteria, even though not eligible for an Oklahoma pardon.
The Board members consider factors such as nature of the crime, the length of time since the
crime was committed, and what you have done with your life since the crime, among other
elements. From the point of discharge of a sentence, there is no minimum amount of time that
a person must wait to apply for a pardon. It should be noted that the law allows some past
crimes to be used to enhance future crimes up to ten (10) years following the completion of the
sentence or court imposed probation. A pardon remains a privilege and not a right. A Board
member can vote for or against the granting of a pardon regardless of the time that has
passed.

D.  Effect of Oklahoma Pardon

Pardon restores the right to hold office and restores firearms privileges for non-violent offenders.  See 21 Okla. Stat. Ann. § 1283(B) (person convicted of a nonviolent felony who has received a “full and complete pardon” regains gun rights, including right to serve as peace officer, and to carry a weapon); BPP, FAQs (“A pardon is executive recognition that someone has turned their life around and has become a productive citizen.”).  A person convicted of a violent felony may not possess a firearm even with a pardon.  See 1283(A).  All offenses, including federal and out-off-state, must be pardoned in order to hold a liquor license, and the spouse and business partners of a convicted person also cannot legally obtain a liquor license.   According to the pardon instructions, a pardon may or may not help with a licensing decision, since some boards give effect to a pardon and some do not. 

E.  Expungement After Oklahoma Pardon

We strongly encourage anyone receiving a pardon to also follow up with an expungement. The statute authorizing expungement after a pardon has been amended on several occasions. The law allows anyone pardoned to seek expungement, eliminating requirements that the crime be non-violent, that the governor make a finding of innocence, and a 10-year waiting period. 

F.  Oklahoma Pardon Procedure

Pardon requires a public hearing, a majority vote by the Board, and a published recommendation.  The applicant must submit a completed application form and documents relating to his conviction, including proof that fines and restitution have been paid (credit report, proof of employment and residence, etc.).  The application must state specific reasons for applying.  The instructions warn that pardon is not a sign of vindication of innocence.  The Board takes into account acceptance of responsibility, remorse and atonement.  Pardon Application, supra, at 4 (application form copied from federal pardon application form).

The investigation of a pardon application is conducted by a Department of Corrections parole officer – the applicant is advised to be candid, and to present himself as a “responsible and productive citizen.”  (“Information you might consider negative will not necessarily hurt your application.  It may serve to show how you were able to overcome a problem and actually improve your chances of receiving a Pardon.”)  When an applicant lives in a different state, information is requested from authorities there about employment and living arrangements.  The application with a report from the D.O.C. is then submitted to the Board for consideration.  Pardon and Parole Board, Policies and Procedures Manual, supra, Policy 004-10 (Pardon Consideration).

The Board holds a public hearing in every case and may take official action only in an open public meeting, pursuant to the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act.  57 Okla. Stat. Ann. § 332.2(G).  Unlike hearings in commutation cases, however, where the applicant, official witnesses, and victim are all entitled to appear and give testimony, hearings on Pardon Applications are held by “Jacket Review,” with the applicant not ordinarily present.  Okla. Admin. Code § 515:1-7-1(d)(1).  The Board may grant the applicant the opportunity to appear, but this happens rarely.  According to Board staff, the process generally takes about six months to complete.  Pardon Application, supra, at p. 1.

The Board meets once a month or at the call of the chairman.  The Board must provide prosecutors a list of persons to be considered for pardon 20 days before hearing, and must also notify victims.  57 Okla. Stat. Ann. §§ 332.2(B), (C); Okla. Admin. Code § 515:1-5-2(d).  Victims, members of public, and law enforcement officials may also speak at the hearing, subject to strict time limitations.  Okla. Admin. Code §§ 515:1-7-1, 515:1-7-2.

Recommendations must be posted on the Board’s website.  Okla. Admin. Code § 515:1-5-2(b).  The Board forwards favorable recommendations to the governor within 30 days, and the governor has 90 days to act.  If the governor does not approve the recommendation, it is deemed denied.  57 Okla. Stat. Ann. § 332.19.

G.  Frequency of grants

For the past fifteen years, the Oklahoma governor has approved more than 100 pardons every year, and this number has continued to grow, with about 150 grants in 2019.  The Board makes a favorable recommendation in about 80% of the cases it hears, and the governor generally approves those recommended by the Board. 

Please call us at 405-353-1494 for a free pardon case evaluation.